The tall girl in the back (andorus) wrote in linguaphiles,
The tall girl in the back
andorus
linguaphiles

Morphing non-English name pronunciations

What's the deal with how Iraq is pronounced in the west? Where did this "eye-rack" mess come from? "Ee-rock" (sorry, I don't have any formal linguistics knowledge and don't know the proper symbols/terminology for the sounds) isn't difficult or unnatural for English speakers in the US and other countries to manage, so how did this change occur?

It just bothers me so much, partly because I'm Indian-American and sick of people butchering my own not-hard-if you-actually-stop-and-think-about-it name and the names of my friends of various ethnicities. I was so thrilled to hear Obama pronounce "Pakistan" properly, as opposed to "pack-uh-stan"--I get that a short A sound is more common in English, but once again, it's not that hard to pronounce it properly.

Anyway, I guess this was more of a rant than an actual question, but if you have any ideas of how this came about, I'd be interested in hearing them. Thanks!

EDIT: I should add that "ee-rock" is an approximation. I don't pronounce it that literally, but I don't know the terms for the various sounds, and I was focusing far more on the errors in the vowel sounds, since we have access to a very wide range of vowel sounds in our natural vocabularies, but on a day-to-day basis we don't use the same consonant sounds as needed to pronounce "Iraq" accurately according to Arabic. Apologies for not being more specific on that!
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